Advice as an instrument for more nature conservation in agriculture: evaluation of the advice offered in the joint project "Red Kite - Land for Life".
From 2014 to 2018, within the scope of the "Rotmilan - Land zum Leben" joint project, more than 880 farms were given advice on the implementation of red-kite-friendly agriculture in eight regions of Germany. The main objective was to improve food availability for red kites on agricultural land. During the entire project period, it was possible to increase the area where measures were applied, from approx. 1,000 ha to more than 13,000 ha/year. Following an initial evaluation by Schmidt und Breitsameter (2015) on the advice given to farmers, the consultants and farm representatives - including those that did not receive any advice - were interviewed on their experiences and perspectives. The focus was on the motivation to participate in the counselling and its effects, as well as the expectations for nature conservation counselling. In summary, the following six core statements can be derived from the results: (1) Suitable funding programmes are a prerequisite for target-oriented implementation of nature conservation measures on agricultural land. (2) Advisory services promote the implementation of measures by attracting new farms to participate and increasing the amount of land involved. (3) Long-term and constant advisory services offered enable the continuous acquisition of new farms and the development of trust and cooperation. (4) Practical support in the implementation of measures, follow-up advice and the communication of successful measures by the advisory institution are important components of the advisory activity. (5) Region-specific features of the advisory services are derived from the available funding measures, the characteristics of the advisory institution and advisors as well as the agricultural structure. (6) Advisory support promotes the quality of the implemented measures, thus the success of the measures cannot be measured solely on the basis of the area covered by the measures. The study reveals that advising farmers is an important instrument for the implementation of nature conservation measures. Advice transfers nature conservation expertise into land management and sensitises the actors. Moreover, it offers support during the implementation of measures. The basics requirements for an effective advisory service, however, are sufficiently financed means for measures, adapted to both region-specific biodiversity targets and agricultural requirements.